What do therapists think about VirtuSense’s fall-risk assessment solution, VSTBalance? Some accept this innovative technology with open arms, while others are hesitant. Why is that?
In a reflective interview, Kari Brizendine, PT, CWS, CDP, CADDCT, CMDCP and Education Specialist at Select Rehab weighed in on the use of innovative technology in the physical therapy field.
“I’ve been in the field for 38 years, and I’ve been through many changes. But I think the change with AI as it relates to fall reduction has been groundbreaking,” she says.
She goes on to distinguish between proactive and reactive care. In the past, healthcare professionals would wait until a fall occurred before they could address the problem, whereas now, with proactive solutions like AI technology, therapists can identify issues early and quickly intervene.
She further explains using VSTBalance as a proactive tool that speeds up evaluation and diagnosis.
“[With VSTBalance], we’re able to use machine vision to see things we might miss with the naked eye. While therapists have expert knowledge in things like gait analysis and balance evaluation, we now have a way to capture problems much more quickly, and act upon them more thoroughly.”
Some therapists fear that the introduction of AI technology in physical therapy will result in a lesser need for therapists. This fear runs true for people across all sorts of industries, that advancing technology will eliminate the need more and more skilled positions.
Brizendine says, “VSTBalance will never replace therapist positions. [The system] is an adjunct to what they are taught to do...[results from VSTBalance are] a piece of the entire picture when you’re looking at an evaluation or assessment.”
The truth is, VSTBalance couldn’t exist without the therapists who perform the assessments. The system streamlines data that informs the care plans the therapists are giving. It's the therapist that makes the data that VSTBalance provides, useful and impactful to patients. Only they can look at the patient holistically.
AI in Memory Care?
What about VSTBalance in Memory Care? Brizendine expresses the doubts she had initially about using the system with dementia patients, but later changed her mind. She notes using AI for prevention in memory care is possible with some creative thinking, like placing something meaningful on the VSTBalance keyboard tray to encourage dementia residents to perform a gait assessment. There’s importance in obtaining good information in a shorter period of attention which is necessary in memory care. VSTBalance is capable of this with assessments that can be performed in less than two minutes.
Brizendine particularly enjoys seeing the smiles on residents’ faces during trainings. They have fun—and they enjoy watching their peers perform assessments, which makes them more comfortable with VSTBalance overall.
The Value in VSTBalance
When asked what the most valuable part of using VSTBalance is, Brizendine responds, “Specificity. [VSTBalance] shows what the resident is doing in inches and centimeters and time. That’s not something I can do in a two-minute session. VSTBalance brings out so many details so quickly that I can use that data along with my evaluation and come up with a very specific treatment plan that’s going to help the individual improve much more quickly. And stay improved for a longer period of time.”
Another valuable segment of data that VSTBalance brings to the table is comparison. Therapists can quickly see how the individual they’re working with compares to peers their same age. This data is not always accessible otherwise.
Brizendine concludes the interview by saying, “AI doesn’t replace you [as a therapist]. It helps you to have even better outcomes with your clients. This is the time in your career where you’ve been given a chance to be proactive—rather than reactive—to fall management. That puts you in a position to be a much more effective therapist with outcomes you have not attained in the past.”